Parting Shot: Andy Brizio The RodFather

Honored At Celestial Rodding Hall of Fame

By Brian Brennan

The death of Andy Brizio, The RodFather, is a powerful and deeply felt loss for all of us, but the Celestial Rodding Hall of Fame just welcomed one of the truly great ones. Andy, who has long served the hot rod world in many capacities, will no longer be gracing the hot rod world; he died on August 1st of this year.

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A great deal has been written on and about Andy throughout his famous career. He was a regular on the pages of car magazines going back to the ’70s and pretty much any hot rodder around today knows the story about his time as a flag starter at Half Moon Bay, which led to a job at Champion Speed Shop and then a partnership with Cub Barnett in Champion. It was in 1967 that Andy produced the Instant T, and it was in 1970 that he built an America’s Most Beautiful Roadster winning Instant T. More on Ts … Andy was also very well known for his Andy’s Tees, a company that produced T-shirts for years for hot rodders all over the country.

02 Andy at the 1998 SEMA show his infectious smile radiating enthusiasm for the automotive industry
It was the SEMA show back in 1998 when Andy was everywhere, and his smile was looked for by all of us. It’s the smile that will be missed.

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He was a friend and driving partner to many hot rodders over the years. To me Andy will always be my friend but there are three stories in particular that are “pressed between the pages of my mind” forever. I first met Andy at Crow’s Canyon in NorCal at his long-running and famous Andy’s Picnic. I believe the event started in 1966 and I was to meet Andy at the “Picnic” in 1971. I had just started my lifelong ambition to take pictures and write about hot rods. It was Tex Smith who introduced me to Andy, and I clearly remember his smile and how he shook my hand. I felt I had known him for years and that he was my friend. Over the next 50 years that feeling never wavered.

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Another time I was driving back from the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in the late ’70s when many of us stopped in Flagstaff, Arizona, as we had run into a summertime downpour. Remember Flagstaff has an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet. It was cold for a roadster driver and the thought of heavy rain and possible snow made for a rethink. Once again, our, Andy and Cub, paths crossed. They needed to press on but didn’t have windshield wipers on their roadster. Andy and Cub would switch out driving while the other acted as the windshield wiper cleaning off BOTH sides of the windshield.

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We stopped at the same spot when I asked Andy why he didn’t have his windshield coated in Rain-X. Neither had used the magical windshield chemical that makes water sheet away quickly, leaving a clear and clean windshield to look through. I told Andy of my story of using it while working at Disneyland. I grabbed my bottle and proceeded to lather up Andy and Cub’s windshield. Andy and I would recall this story for years. He would tell everyone standing around how I saved him and Cub by showing them this miracle chemical. It saved one or both from hanging over the windshield wiping off the downpour.

03 Andy Brizio building one of his renowned Instant Ts at the National Roadster Show demonstrating the progress of his work throughout the 10 day event
Back in the heyday of the National Roadster Show (soon to become the “Grand”), Andy built one of his famous Instant Ts during the show … back when the show lasted 10 days. You could see progress each day of the show while visiting the vast array of hot rods and customs on the show floor.

Over the years Andy and I would see one another often at gatherings but it was back in 2007 that I would enjoy what may very well be the “drive of a lifetime” for me in my highboy roadster. Andy and Cub were driving back to the Good Guys Indy event when Lil’ John Buttera and I would drive our roadsters together back to the same event. It was John’s lil’ lakester-style roadster that featured the all-aluminum Moal Coachbuilders body. It was John’s last build.

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04 Andy engages in friendly conversations at various hot rod events nationwide establishing lifelong friendships within the automotive community
Andy could literally be found at hot rod events across the country for decades. He was a friend to everyone and would always talk “shop” with people he was meeting for the first time. After the first time you met Andy you thought of him as a longtime friend for life.

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Some of you may recall that was a time when Andy and Lil’ John were on the “outs.” As luck would have it, I found myself acting as a go-between and finally one evening while standing outside the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Indianapolis Lil’ John and Andy “cleared the air’ ‘ and from then on their friendship was all that it should have been. Oh, the drive was fantastic with lots of crazy things happening, but all that took a phaeton’s backseat to what was important.

Andy, our RodFather, thank you for the memories. It’s appreciated. MR

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